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In my early 20s, I experienced two break ups back-to-back that were both painful. When the second relationship ended, I sat with myself in a fit of tears and frustration and decided I’d process the pain directly. I realized that if the pain was out of my control, it made sense to use the time to benefit — that is, to grow — as much as I could through the heartache.
But this wasn’t as easy as I hoped it would be. Sitting in my pain was like trying to guide a boat by myself through a storm, it felt frightening, uncomfortable, and chaotic.
Much of the process required being honest with myself. I had to look beneath the obvious source of my pain because I knew what I was feeling was more than the sorrow I felt from losing a significant other. I had to internally reflect on feelings of insecurity and inadequacy that I felt, both during my relationships and as a result of them ending.
Feeling and exploring my pain was messy and incredibly uncomfortable at first. But the more I allowed myself to process what I was feeling, the less I felt controlled by my emotions. Eventually, identifying the source of my pain allowed me to untie it from the anchor that weighed heavy on my life — it felt freeing and created room for growth.
To deny pain doesn’t lead to long-term, authentic strength or happiness. Rather, pretending we’re okay in moments when we’re not is actually a form of weakness. It’s the easier option. To deny pain is less difficult than working through it. Pain is incredibly uncomfortable, so we do anything we can to run from it. In the end, we only make it worse.
Disconnecting from pain inevitably disconnects us from other aspects of ourselves. After years of denial, we sometimes become strangers to our own selves. How can we recognize what genuinely makes us happy if we’re not in tune with joy’s neighbor, sadness?
Denying pain hinders growth and progression in our lives. In denial, we withhold the opportunity to find the lessons in life’s inevitable hardships.
When we give ourselves the necessary time to process grief, not only are we showing genuine strength, we are doing an incredible service to ourselves in the long run. There are gifts hidden in pain, but we don’t usually let ourselves work through it long enough to receive them.
Pain is natural and it’s there for a reason. Pain helps us grow and it helps us savor moments of bliss. Through pain, we gain meaningful insights about life. We learn significant lessons about ourselves. We discover the immense courage and bravery within us because we were forced to find it in our painful experiences.
Our world is full of people walking around with a weight they’ve been dragging for years because they never processed their pain. Now it weighs heavy on their bodies.
Pain doesn’t disappear; it disguises itself in other areas of our lives. It finds new places to hide in our bodies and minds until we decide to finally address it and let it free.
Try not to judge yourself for how you feel. If you are sad over of a breakup that happened months ago, don’t say, “This is just dumb, why do I feel this way? I’m so weak.” Instead, welcome it, let out a sigh and feel it until it moves through your system.
Whatever you’re feeling, feel it and don’t stop feeling it until you find its gifts. Your pain isn’t silly or irrational, it’s authentic and it’s here for a reason. Overtime, pain will morph into beauty.
You deserve to feel, you deserve to find pain’s gifts, and you deserve to let go of the weight that’s keeping you from being free.